Audit Your Online Footprint with a Password Manager

I’ve been using the password manager 1Password for nearly a year now. I’ve mentioned many times how it’s a great way to keep all of your passwords in one place. This morning, while browsing through the list of passwords, I realized it had a different use.

Over the last year, I’ve accumulated over 300 online accounts. My situation may not be typical, but as I was looking through the list, I realized I couldn’t remember why I even used some of these accounts. It was time for an audit.

Here’s what I did.

  1. Sorted the account list by date.
    I wanted to see if there any accounts I could just get rid of. I added a tag to each of the ones I didn’t care about anymore. I also tried to tag the accounts with a category. My categories are pretty coarse. I use some tags specific to my day job, Social Networks, Tools, Traveler Programs, Game Sites, Blogs and the new category, Unused. Any sites that I’m no longer interested in, I tag Unused.
  2. Sort by password
    Not all password manager let you do this but 1Password displays the passwords in a list as a series of colored bars from Red to Green. You want to make sure that you are using secure passwords. Passwords listed in Red or Yellow will need to change.  I go through each account and update the passwords to something more secure.
  3. Sort by Location
    For some reason I have duplicate account information for some domains, sorting your password list by location helps you identify them.
  4. Print a paper copy
    A lot of people, myself included often forget to keep a physical copy of your passwords. Why might you want to do this? Well, not to get morbid but if you get hit by a bus, is someone going to be able to get to your account information to help tidy up your affairs? A physical copy of your password list kept in a safe will eliminate this problem.

After you’ve gone through these four simple steps, the next step is to eliminate. Go to the passwords tagged Unused. It’s time to prune your footprint. This isn’t always an easy process. For each of the websites you’ve identified, go to the site itself and search for delete account. One easy way to do it is to use this handy Google Search. delete account

This will likely return the appropriate information on how to remove your account.

Don’t delete the account from your password manager yet. After you’ve gone through this exercise, you want to go back to these sites in a few weeks to ensure that they did delete your account.

There you have it. A few simple steps to identify and possibly cleanup your online footprint. If you have any tips for how you keep your identity clean, post it in the comments.

Audit the password quality. In the account list, you can sort your passwords by field.

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